Lower South

May, 2012
Regional Report

Favorite or New Plant

Almond Verbena
Almond verbena (Aloysia virgata) bears terminal spikes of white blooms that release a strong vanilla-almond fragrance, especially late in the day and in the evening hours. The plant is a woody shrub that is hardy to zone 8. In warmer areas it may reach 15 feet or more and begin to bloom in May or June. In the northern parts of the Lower South it can freeze to the ground but returns to form an 8 foot tall bush, starting its bloom season in late June or July. Even if it doesn't freeze back, it is a good idea to cut the plant back to near the ground in late winter to maintain it as a smaller shrub. Note that the rough foliage is irritating to the skin of some people.

Clever Gardening Technique

Trellised Melon Supports
Growing cantaloupe, muskmelons, or small sized watermelon cultivars on a trellis can save a lot of garden space and open the opportunity to grow these delicious garden crops to gardeners who otherwise would not be able to enjoy them. To support the heavy fruit take a pair of ladies hosiery and cut off the legs. Make several fruit supports from each leg by tying a knot in the hose and then cutting it off about 6 inches above the knot (longer for small watermelons). Slip the hose over the melons when they are about the size of a tennis ball or baseball and tie the open end to the trellis lifting the melon a little since it will pull down on the support as it grows. If you don't have hosiery you can still make a "hammock" type support from the netting used to hold onions or other produce, or even a section of old t-shirt.

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